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Assessing Avram? No Time Like The Present


Dorset

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The last time I wrote in depth about our manager it was in praise and when we had, allegedly, expressed an interest in Dimitar Berbatov (the pre-Anelka era) and my hopes were high that entertaining, artistic football was just around the corner. It is easy to be wise after events, which is why brave posters hang their colours to the mast early in any transfer window, and it occurs to me now that this is precisely the right moment to assess Avram Grant’s performance since arriving stage (managed) from left field.

After all, he has an identical opening run record to Jose (28 games, only 2 defeats and a Carling Cup final to look forward to) at a similar stage in his career with us and, as he has indirectly said himself, the ‘big events’ such as the FA Cup, CL and EPL titles are still well within our grasp. So, let’s all try to be wise before them, shall we? At the same time, let’s also say how we feel about our latest transfers in and commit on who we would want, if anybody, before the window closes next week. No more juries being out, powder being kept dry, too soons to say or waits to see, here’s my take on Avram’s achievements and failures to date, which in turn lead me to an assessment well in advance of any hammering he might get if we go down to Spurs, or any lauding of him should we overhaul Fergie and the Arse in the Premiership, or any mass production of ’In Avi We Trust’ banners should the CL come our way….

Transfers - The Good seems likely to be Nic Anelka and, if he was really an Avram target and a ’must buy’, I’m going to have to eat some humble pie pretty much any day now. Of course his critics will say that he’s already had some clear cut chances and failed to convert any of them, but the honeymoon isn’t over quite yet awhile and I prefer to be in the ’Ah yes, but he is getting into the scoring positions’ camp.

The Bad also falls into the missed opportunities category in so far as Avram has not shown the slightest indication of backing up his incessant promising of a new style of football by pursuing a playmaker or indulging my own particular preference for an entertainer like Berbatov. Say what you like about a summer reassessment in this area, my disappointment is clear and present, the danger being that the position of strength for us in the market is now and may not be six months down the line.

Furthermore, there is the Ugly in that the influx of youngsters simply hasn’t happened in terms of someone coming in (a Di Santo, a Dos Santos or even a more homely Kenwyne Jones) which, combined with the non-appearance of Scott Sinclair on Wednesday, does not bode well for the future under, what might be called in political circles, a dissembling Mr Grant. There is definitely work to do in this area and it must not go unnoticed amidst the euphoria of anticipated Cup success, especially when Wenger’s cup exploits contain an elixir of youth that’s been exposed as no more than a quack remedy for the third season running.

Turning to European matters, I’ve got to say that Avram’s approach has been an unqualified success and you have to take your hat off to him for matching Jose’s preparatory skills against Valencia. His contrastingly calm persona could well pay dividends in the latter stages of the CL, whereas Jose’s volatility always got him, and us, into trouble. Top marks so far then, but the going is bound to get tougher and a head-to-head clash against English opposition anywhere other than in the final will ferret out any tactical frailties quicker than Pauly praising an Italian No 10. In short, we could well win this, whereupon I will get my banner printed immediately.

Finally, there is the Premiership - the battleground where, this season, Avram will probably have his status defining moments. A shrewd man-manager he may be, a schmoozer he most definitely is, but when we meet the Gunners and ManU at our place, in a cauldron of noise that might one day be compared to the atmosphere experienced at Anfield on one of their extra special non-Premiership winning nights, will he have the expertise to see us through to the victories we will need to overtake them both?

You see this is where I’ve got my biggest doubts - whilst the defence doesn’t worry me, because Stevie Clarke’s got it all under control, and the ‘going forward’ bit is coming on a treat, because you would get it all going with ‘Mad Dog’ Henk bawling at you, wouldn’t you? - it’s the subtle tactical nuances, the quick decision-making, but, most of all, the spark to light the fire in the belly that might be missing at precisely the moment it is needed the most. You could rely on our previous manager to appreciate that moment and sometimes, when in dire need, almost engineer it, but Avram has yet to convince on the subject. Admittedly, against ManU away, it was far too early to judge, but it was a different matter at the Emirates where I felt that the signs were not good. Also, the evidence provided by some of our home fixtures has been damning on style, content and the dropping of some points, although there has yet to be enough of it to bring about a conviction.

That said, conviction is what I’ve called for in this post so I’ll be certain enough on the topic to state that we’ll be found wanting in the Premiership, unless Avram shows he is as good at the intuitive, animated side of playing catch up as he is at the pokerfaced side of playing the percentages. Like it or not, whether it be passion or points, he’s not given much away and, having so far talked a better game than the one actually played on the park, maybe it’s about time he and his (our) team actually went out and expressed themselves.

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I think he's doing great so far and will keep my expectations to what they were after his first four or five games in charge,

that said anything more would be a bonus and we are in a bvetter position than I expected us to be under the circumstances,

I will leave reassessing the man until he has had enough time in charge to have made the team fully his own but for now my expectations have been exceeded,

well done to the bloke.

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Good read Dorset.

Jose never lost to Fergy or Wenger, Avram has lost to both already.

Firstly great record for Jose, but Avram shouldnt be assessed on those 2 matches because the utd game was way too early after he just joined us, and in the arsenal game we had lots of injuries (no Drogba), lost JT on 38 minutes & only had Sheva available up front. We did play pretty well against arsenal considering.

So i will give Avram a happy0034.gif for now and hope he can show us how much he has learned from those 2 games when they return to the bridge.

It will be interesting to see how he comes off against fergy & wenger , now he has some experience under his belt.

AvingYa.gif

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Excellent post Dorset, I share your concerns about Avram in the key areas you have highlighted.

I especially like your last closing point.

I think tactically the jury is definitely out, he has yet to show anything like the pretty consistent sharp thinking and nous of his predecessor but then admittedly he hasn't been called upon to do so much yet. What he has done has been reasonably solid, sound and predictable which is fine but is that enough?

I also have to resist sighing with exasperation every time Avram opens his mouth and talks with said poker face about the much better quality football we now play with little to really back those statements up.

Otherwise he's picked up the baton admirably but I'm not about go get those banners out yet proclaiming him our saviour just because he has got the same results as Mourinho at this stage of the season.

His low key and dour personality means it's very difficult to know what he thinks about anything much and what his core beliefs are or how much he really does know at the highest level. Everyone seems to know Avram, Wenger, Sven you name it they call him a "friend" so he has been around for a long time but that tells me little other than he seems good at schmoozing his way round various big wigs in the football fraternity and that doesn't impress me, it's what he does on the pitch that will make me sit up and take notice.

We're just going to have to wait until the sharp end of the season to find out if your fears prove well founded or if Avram really is the next Special One.

Can Roman really find two of them just like that one after the other? 300.gif

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Guest Brian M

I agree with pretty much all of what you've said Dorset. But then there's nothing new in that, now is there!

Grant is winning games with JOSE'S TEAM. That's the most important thing to remember at this moment in time. Anelka is the only 'Grant player'. And he's played 3 games without scoring, so not exactly Eye of the Tiger time just yet. (Though I firmly believe Anelka will start hitting the back of the net and will form a fantastic partnership with Drogba. A partnership that could just do enough to win us the league).

My worry, like yours, is that Grant's brain works too slowly during games*. Whereas Jose could read a game like a pop up copy of the Karma Sutra, and get a player on or change a formation RIGHT AWAY. Grant doesn't know how to do that, beyond: 'Hey, let's bring on a player at the hour mark to get some fresh legs up front'. Which is a concept so basic, even G4 understands it.

Modern football is a lot like chess - as you know better than most, Dorset. And if Jose is Bobby Fischer (RIP by the way - great loss, that one), Grant is that surly uncle who used to cheat when he played you at checkers, when you were a nipper. Because you were better at it than he was.

*which he can get away with against so-so teams, because we've got the players to make him look good. But against the bigger teams (and the sharper managers), it'll be found out quicker than you say, 'Is that a Fiddler on the Roof, Avram?'.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

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I agree with pretty much all of what you've said Dorset. But then there's nothing new in that, now is there!

I cant agree with much of this and although I am trying to keep out of what usually turns into petty arguments over the Avram Jose comparison I would just like to put forward a few of my views

Grant is winning games with JOSE'S TEAM. That's the most important thing to remember at this moment in time. Anelka is the only 'Grant player'. And he's played 3 games without scoring, so not exactly Eye of the Tiger time just yet. (Though I firmly believe Anelka will start hitting the back of the net and will form a fantastic partnership with Drogba. A partnership that could just do enough to win us the league).

Anelka is obviously a good signing and you have made it clear you believe this at the end of the paragraph so we dont need to debate this one (imo)

great Jose signings did not set the Bridge on fire after 3 games either in cas we do,

My worry, like yours, is that Grant's brain works too slowly during games*. Whereas Jose could read a game like a pop up copy of the Karma Sutra, and get a player on or change a formation RIGHT AWAY. Grant doesn't know how to do that, beyond: 'Hey, let's bring on a player at the hour mark to get some fresh legs up front'. Which is a concept so basic, even G4 understands it.

to base a managers good substitutions using a run of three years to pick the telling ones out versus three months seems unfair,

it could be argued that we have not needed the amazing Essien to right back more than the once Avi has employed it or that we have not been in positions where we have had the players available to turn the game from the bench,

it could be that Avrams approach has been more patient and led to the fringe players gaining confidence by their extended playing time and the faith shown in them while they are not performing to the top of their game,

there were times in Jose three years when his changes did nothing or smacked of desperation as there will be with any manager over time.

Modern football is a lot like chess - as you know better than most, Dorset. And if Jose is Bobby Fischer (RIP by the way - great loss, that one), Grant is that surly uncle who used to cheat when he played you at checkers, when you were a nipper. Because you were better at it than he was.

Grant has done well with the players available and if bobby fisher would have met spassky or kasparov without his queen (Drogba) or his bishops (essein or Terry) he would have come unstuck the way Grant did against Ferguson and Wenger.

two losses in twenty eight games is superb for any manager, add to that the injuries, suspensions, ACN and the problems keeping players motivated when they hasd just lost one of the best motivators around and it looks to me like Grant has had a tougher job on his hands than to just say go out and do what you did under Jose,

it must be an added pep talk for opposaition managers to be able to tell the teams exactly what most on here believe that Grant is not fit to lace Jose's snakeskin italian shoe's but the realism is they dont seem to get any more out of the game than they did in Jose's reign,

*which he can get away with against so-so teams, because we've got the players to make him look good. But against the bigger teams (and the sharper managers), it'll be found out quicker than you say, 'Is that a Fiddler on the Roof, Avram?'.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

just my opinions and I'm sure some will pick them to pieces but I hope some might think some of the points are valid and stay off Grants back for a while.

cheers

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For the record, we lost the Arsenal game to a Cech error, not Grant's tactical mistakes. People comparing these two records against the big four seems kinda silly to me, Grants only had 2 games, and if Cech would have made that error under Mourinho against Arsenal, it likely would have been the same result as it was under Grant. I find it hard to blame AG for that game when a BAD mistake by Cech cost us the game, just as a BAD decision by the referee got Mikel sent off and left us to play 60 minutes with 10 men at old trafford.

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Yeah he is doing well with Jose's team.

But taking into account some of the suspentions,the injuries and the African cup,there truely is nothing to complain about.

We are playing decent football.....

...doing well in all competitions (so far) ,and I have been impressed.

Im really not that bothered in weather the manager gives the hacks something to write about.

We should wait until the end of the season,then we can look back and assess it as a whole.

Then we can really pass judgement on our ugly manager icon_wink.gif .

Were not quite 'Avram Grant's Blue Army' yet.....but in the future,who knows??

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Interesting debate. Both Brian and Chippy make good points here.

In all honesty though, how many of us truly believe that Grant has that much to do with the footballing side of matters? As the Guardian article suggests, Avran was brought in by Abramovich to smooth the waters with the press. Stevie C should really be taking the plaudits for providing continuity ensuring that much of what was created under Jose's reign has not been lost. In addition, Ten Cate's influence may well be starting to show dividends.

As for Avram? I agree with Brian that when the going gets tough in big games he may well be found wanting; the game at the Arse is a case in point when he took far too long to change things around and didn't show enough bottle in making substitutions that may well have changed the way the game was going as Jose would have done.

As long as we are winning, staying in touch with Man U and Arsenal and still in the cup competitions, everything will be hunky dory. However, we will only see just how good or not Avram is should we hit the skids and lose and draw a few games in a row. How will he deal with the pressure that will place on his shoulders and will he have enough respect in the dressing room to rejuvenate the players?

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Guest Brian M
[i cant agree with much of this and although I am trying to keep out of what usually turns into petty arguments over the Avram Jose comparison I would just like to put forward a few of my views

Don't agree with all you're saying Chippy, but well argued mate.

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[i cant agree with much of this and although I am trying to keep out of what usually turns into petty arguments over the Avram Jose comparison I would just like to put forward a few of my views

Don't agree with all you're saying Chippy, but well argued mate.

cheers,

just another opinion, nobody really knows but I sincerely hope grant changes your mind rather than mine icon_wink.gif I bet you do too happy0034.gif

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As most have said its the business end of the season when AG must surely be judged.

He has kept the results going well though under extremely difficult circumstances and deserves the credit he is getting.

I think Anelka was a good signing but not exactly plucked from nowhere. He was to be fair the obvious choice to most(especially not being cuptied in any competition). Hav'nt seen anything of the others to judge.

I like most had and still have reservations about his appointment as a long term replacement for JM. Although i think Steve C has a big influence in the dressing room its a little unfair on AG to take any of the credit away from him for the work Clarke and Top Cat are doing. Even Fergie has always insisted on having a top No 2 and coaches around him.

I do though find it funny that he is being praised for matching JM's record. Does this mean he has failed?? lets not forget JM got sacked, whats the point in changing manager and paying all that compensation unless you are hoping for an improvement??? 317.gif

I also agree with others about the talking up of the teams playing style, which to be fair has'nt changed to much. We are still playing very much the same way we did. But then again i happend to disagree with the myth that the football we used to play was boring.

Being a Chelsea fan all my life any trophy to me is a successful season. If AG wins us the League cup i'd be a happy man(beating Spurs would make it all the sweeter). Whether its enough for RA though is another matter and if last season is anything to go by it wont be.

For me though i'd just say keep going, the players are slowly coming back and the squad will get bigger and better in the coming weeks. We have everything to play for so well done to everyone and lets go for the quad. You never know we might come away with another double of some sort 128.gif

Or better 128.gif128.gif128.gif

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I do though find it funny that he is being praised for matching JM's record. Does this mean he has failed?? lets not forget JM got sacked, whats the point in changing manager and paying all that compensation unless you are hoping for an improvement???

Thats because this record from JM is from the start of his first season here I think. The one where we won the league

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I have to admit I am rapidly changing my views on Avram.

I was extremely critical of his lack of pedigree, qualifications and charisma. But, and it is now becoming a VERY big but, the guy is not letting anybody down.

1. Stability on and off the pitch (This should NOT be under-estimated after the upheavel)

2. Excellent results (Man Ure and Arse excepted)

3. Our football whilst not spectacular is now MUCH better to watch)

4. No more negative press ( I was sick to death of our despised image)

5. The tabloids even seem to like his bumbling "Uncle Fester" type image

Concerns thus far are simply the nactical nuances and the pretty unadventurous subs.

If I was giving him a school report, it would say something like :

"Avram is well on his way to exceeding his target grade for this term. He is clearly a very consciencous member of the team but now needs to display slightly more enthusiasm for his successes"

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I feel that Avram's sub moves aren't the best but let's not forget he never had a chance to work with anything that resembles a full squad so his options were always limited.

What really concerns me is that the boys look very tired after playing so many matches in a short period of time and the injured players are very very slow to return. Was hoping to see Sheva already and Lamps after being one of the most durable footballers in the prem for years seems to not be able to shake off the injury. What is the status on JT? He seems to have been missing for ages.

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Guest Brian M
3. Our football whilst not spectacular is now MUCH better to watch

I can't agree with that. The rest I'll go along with, but certainly not that.

Not yet at least. But maybe when we get a full first 11 on the field, who knows!

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3. Our football whilst not spectacular is now MUCH better to watch

I can't agree with that. The rest I'll go along with, but certainly not that.

Not yet at least. But maybe when we get a full first 11 on the field, who knows!

I really think it has got better as well. The football for the last 8-9 months under Mourinho was for the most part hideous in my opinion. I can't say I am an expert on all matters of entertaining and not so entertaining football, I just know I was starting to get bored watching Chelsea, (the team I love btw, which made it even more sh*t) play towards the end under Mourinho, couldn't help it, and I wasn't alone in that respect either.

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Wotcha Brian - long time no row!

Just a quickie on Avram playing with Jose's team, I don't believe he is. Sure most of the team were bought in Jose's day, but at which point did Jose ever have to cope without the whole of his spine in JT / Lampard / Drogba (and occasionally Cech) at once?

Furthermore, when did JM ever put out - regularly - a team that looked like Cech / Belletti / Alex / Carv / Bridge / Maka / Sidwell / SWP / Malouda / Cole / Anelka?

In Belletti / Alex / Sidwell / Malouda, JM never had the time to manage them properly.

In Bridge / SWP / Cole, JM never had faith in them

In Anelka, JM only played against him

That only leaves Cech / Maka / Carvalho as being of JM's team.

Fair do's to Grant / Clarkey / TC, they're doing fine. Even finer when you consider the team they're not currently fielding at the moment....

Carlo / Ferreira / JT / Ben Haim / A. Cole / Mikel / Essien / Lampard / Ballack / Sheva / Drogs (I know some of these guys are coming back, but you get my drift).

Cheers

Mike

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